New Maryland laws go into effect Oct. 1: Spousal defense, hate crimes, firearms

A Maryland law that prohibited prosecution of a person for rape or other sexual crimes against their legal spouse will be repealed next week — one of hundreds of new Maryland laws set to take effect on Oct. 1.

Known for years as spousal defense, the new law eliminates the defense, and allows prosecution if “the person in committing the crime uses force or threat of force and the act is without the consent of the spouse.”

Other new laws will allow victims of hate crimes — and other protected classes — to sue the person or group who committed the offense against them, for hate crimes committed after Oct. 1.

As of Oct. 1, people with concealed-carry permits in Maryland will be banned from bringing firearms to a number of public places, including schools, health care facilities, polling places, stadiums, museums, venues that serve alcohol or cannabis for on-site consumption. The restriction also applies to private property, unless the owner has granted permission.

Exemptions will be allowed for law enforcement, correctional officers, security guards, and members of the military who are either on duty or traveling to and from duty.

The wait time will be reduced for record expungement. Waiting time for misdemeanors will drop from 10 to five years. Some felonies will be eligible to be expunged after seven years, while first-and-second-degree burglary and felony theft will be eligible after 10 years.

Drug policy changes

As of Oct. 1, hospitals will be required to conduct tests for fentanyl when doing urine screenings to assess a patient’s condition. If a urine drug screening detects fentanyl, the anonymous results will be reported to the Maryland Department of Health.

Also, Maryland’s good Samaritan Law will be tweaked. It clarifies a person having a medical emergency will have immunity from criminal arrest, charge, or prosecution for possession, “if the evidence of the violation was obtained solely as a result of the person seeking, providing, assisting with, or receiving the provision of medical assistance.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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